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February 28, 2014

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Apple sues over voice-recognition patent

Apple Inc has sued a government intellectual property bureau and a Shanghai-based firm regarding voice-recognition technology used in Siri on iPhone and iPad.

Apple asked the State Intellectual Property Office to confirm it holds the Siri patent and rejected a similar request of Shanghai-based Zhizhen Network Technology, which developed a Siri-like product called Xiao-I Robot. Zhizhen had previously applied patents for Xiao-I Robot and sued Apple for patent violation.

The Beijing No.1 Intermediate Court yesterday heard the case.

Apple confirmed the case but declined to comment. Zhizhen was not available to comment yesterday.

Zhizhen sued Apple over related patents in July in Shanghai. But the local court which heard the case has yet to make a ruling.

Apple then asked the intellectual office, responsible for patent rights protection in China, to declare Zhizhen’s voice recognition patent invalid. But the request was rejected and Apple appealed to the Beijing court.

Shanghai’s Zhizhen developed Xiao-I Robot with online personal assistant functions from weather forecast, calender to online shopping, similar to Siri. Xiao-I Robot was used in Microsoft Corp’s instant message tool MSN.

Last year, Zhizhen accused Apple of copying its Xiao-I Robot software, which was patented in 2004 in China.

Siri, described by Apple as an “intelligent personal assistant,” made its debut when the company released the iPhone 4S in 2011.

Siri is able to respond to a user’s commands by using voice recognition software.


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